DNN: 7 July 2016

Thursday, July 7, 2016
by Cameron Shelley

Perhaps the earliest suggestion that consumer drones were about to take off in a big way was the "tacocopter", the little drone brings people tacos from above.  The idea exploded onto the Web in 2012 with the product launch.

Alas that the announcement was a prank!  However, the combination of drones and food has endured.  Chinese Internet giant Alibaba, for example, has experimented with fast-food delivery by drone in 2015.  Let me apprise you of the latest developments!

A man with the YouTube handle of Viva Frei has demonstrated how to cook a steak on a BBQ using a drone.  The drone is used to fly the steak several meters to the grill and lower it carefully for cooking, roughly speaking.

Remote video URL

The next step will be to have the drone cut up the steak into bite-sized pieces and deliver them into the owner's mouth.

If that seems too tame, then consider the case of Brett and Austin Haughwout of Connecticut.  They equipped their family drone with its own heating apparatus into order to cook a turkey.  After posting video of their efforts to YouTube, a US attorney issued a subpoena for what was considered an illegal, weaponized device.  The family is fighting the case in court.

Remote video URL

Curiously, the US Geological Survey is also getting into the act.  The organization intends to use drones to distribute peanut pellets to prairie dogs in Montana.  Why?  The critters are the main food source of the endangered black-footed ferret.  Unfortunately, prairie dog numbers have plummeted due, in part, to a disease carried by fleas.  The peanut pellets are treated with a vaccine that can prevent the disease, and prairie dogs evidently like peanut butter enough to eat the vaccine along with the pellets.  

If the prairie dog population rebounds, then so will the ferret population.  At least, that is the idea.

Perhaps the ideas could be combined: Drones could deliver vaccinated tacos to Americans in order to prevent outbreaks without the tedium of doctor's office visits.

So, the question is: Which of these schemes are good ones, or not, and why?